Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 21 August 2014

Disabled stage benefits cuts demo

Thousands of disabled people and their supporters have marched past Parliament to protest against welfare cuts
Protesters marching against the Government's spending cuts on welfare benefits

Thousands of disabled people and their supporters have marched past Parliament to protest against the Government's spending cuts on welfare benefits.

Demonstrators including people in wheelchairs and blind people with dogs took part in the event, to oppose the coalition's welfare reforms and their impact on the disability living allowance (DLA). Many were going on to meet their MPs over the issue.

A series of protests are being held this week against the new work capability assessments which campaigners say have seen thousands of people, some with serious health conditions, denied benefits.

Protesters going past Parliament chanted slogans such as: "We need support, we need care, don't take away our welfare", and carried placards with such messages as "Leave DLA alone, it's already hard to be ill."

Shadow work and pensions secretary Liam Byrne told the marchers at a rally before they set off: "Tell people what it means to cut 20% off the benefits for disabled people and find out how to do it later, and to make disabled people prisoners in their own homes. These changes are cruel and they must change."

He added: "We have been tabling amendment after amendment that shows this Government how they can do things differently, and day after day they have joined forces to defeat us.

"With passion, conviction and determination we can change this Bill for the better, and give people in this country their rights to a full and independent life."

TV personality and actress Jane Asher, president of the Arthritis Council, National Autistic Society and Parkinson's UK, told the rally: "The Prime Minister said that the savings would protect the vulnerable.

"Far from protecting the vulnerable, these cuts are bearing down disproportionately on those with disability. People with disability are being hit from all sides.

"I am calling on the Government, with all of you, to put a stop to these cuts - they are cruel, they are misguided, and they are badly drafted."

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